WASHINGTON -- The Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Delaware (SSN 791), the 18th submarine of the Virginia class, Oct. 25.
"Delaware's delivery marks the culmination of millions of man-hours of work by thousands of people across this country to bring the world's foremost undersea asset to the fleet," said Capt. Christopher Hanson, Virginia Class Submarine program manager. "This next-generation attack submarine provides the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea superiority."
Delaware is the eighth and final Virginia class block III submarine. The ship began construction in 2013 and is scheduled to be commissioned on April 4, 2020.
Compared to blocks I and II of the class, block III submarines feature a redesigned bow replacing 12 individual vertical launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. The design also incorporates a water-backed large-aperture bow sonar array in place of the traditional air-backed spherical array. These, among other design changes, reduced the submarines' acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.
Delaware is the seventh ship to bear the name of "The First State." The first Delaware served in the American Revolution, the second in the Quasi-War with France. The third was burned to prevent her from falling into the hands of the Confederate navy. The fourth served blockading duties through the end of the Civil War. Little is known about the fifth, other than that she was a screw steamer that began life with another name before being renamed Delaware on May 15, 1869. The sixth Delaware was a battleship commissioned April 4, 1910, that served in the Atlantic and Caribbean. During World War I, she provided convoy escort and participated in allied naval exercises. She was decommissioned Nov. 10, 1923.
Virginia-class submarines are built to operate in the world's littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations forces support; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; irregular warfare and mine warfare missions. Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility and firepower enable them to support five of the six Maritime Strategy core capabilities -- sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.